A frequent criticism of the former A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government has been the way Guyana’s gold reserves slid downhill from 2015 to the time they left office last year. However, recent data released by the Bank of Guyana showed that the gold reserves are on the path to recovery.
According to the Bank of Guyana’s recently gazetted Statement of Assets and Liabilities as of March 24, 2021, the bank has $5.1 billion in its gold reserves. This, coupled with money and capital market securities and balances with banks, amounts to $134.3 billion in foreign assets.
When the former David Granger Administration took office in May 2015, the gold held in Guyana’s reserve was valued at $15 billion, according to figures released by the Bank of Guyana in its Statement of Assets and Liabilities published in the Official Gazette, on May 30, 2015.
But in an Official Gazette published on February 29, 2020, three days before General and Regional Elections on March 2, the gold reserve held less than $1 billion remaining.
According to the Bank of Guyana’s figures, when Guyanese went to the polls, the gold reserve was valued at $635 million. Bank of Guyana had previously defended a decision to sell off portions of Guyana’s gold reserves, saying the move was reflective of “strategic trading”.
Central Bank at the time had said it trades gold and replenishes the stock based on market opportunities. The bank noted that gold is not managed as an exclusive reserve asset for holding, but as part of a portfolio of assets.
However, it has been pointed out by former Opposition Leader and now Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo, while on the campaign trail, that the former Administration depleted hundreds of millions of dollars that was left in the country’s treasury and handed over to it in 2015, but there has been little to no developments to date that would account for the taxpayers’ dollars.
A total of 584,291 ounces of gold were declared to the Guyana Gold Board in 2020. Of this amount, small- and medium-scale miners were able to up their production to 485,552 ounces of gold for the year – representing 75 per cent of the country’s total production.
The Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners’ Association (GGDMA) had highlighted the contributions made by these stakeholders, noting that it amounts to US$808,587,118 in export earnings, compared to US$619 million earned in 2019. In 2019, gold declarations were 634,905 ounces.
While 2020 saw reduced gold declarations compared to the previous year, it did see a number of gold finds. For instance, Australia-based mining company Alicanto Minerals made its first-ever gold find in Guyana in November, only days after another mining company, Troy Resources, had announced that it had found gold deposits underground.